That's been my writerly slogan - my mantra, if you will - for several years now. And I believe it. With all my heart.
Which is the reason I find this obsession with e-readers somewhat troublesome.
No, I'm not going to blog about whether or not e-readers are the beginning of the end of printed books. (Although I certainly hope not. For me, there is always a tingly rush whenever I enter a library or bookstore and breathe in that aroma of papery potential...but, I digress.)
There are enough people out there discussing that subject.
I'm not even concerned that children will be using them. Personally, I wish my boys had had access to them in school, when it seemed the required textbooks in their backpacks weighed more than they did. But again, I digress.
I would like to address the subject of picture books, early readers and e-readers*.
"Don't be silly," I've been told. "No one's going to entrust a toddler or young child with an expensive e-reader."
Ummm...not if Vtech has anything to say about it. Yes folks, for under $60, your child can have an e-reader. They're color-splashed, sturdy and easy to operate. And kids seem to love them.
Again, I have no problem with this. In fact, I think it's great. How can one argue with a machine that not only supports learning and reading, but also strives to foster a love of both?
What concerns me is that some people might consider these mechanisms a substitute for parent interaction. I worry that children will receive e-readers as a replacement for attention. We've seen it happen too often with television and video.
Today's technology can enhance our love of reading, of music, of the world around us. It can assist in teaching facts, promoting comprehension and building skills. It can be entertaining, inspiring and thought provoking.
What it can't do is talk about what just happened, mid-sentence, when a toddler's eyes grow large. It can't wipe away the tears, or tickle away the fears. It can't giggle or squeal at an illustration or inside joke.
It can't give a hug. Or take hold of a tiny hand and begin new adventures.
My kids grew up with Teddy Ruxpin. That adorable story-telling bear deepened their appreciation for fiction, but he was never a substitute for my lap, for my voice, for "our" nightly, snuggly read.
And that's why, whether a story is hard or soft-bound, whether it's lined in fur, metal or plastic, whether it's free-standing, battery-operated or plugged in, it's always best shared person-to-person, heart-to-heart. Because, as so many will tell you, children remember not the material things you give to them, but the experiences you share with them.
That's just how methinks.
* Just for the record: No child is ever "too old" to be read to. Discovering books and sharing them with others is a lifelong joy. That goes for hugs too.